Vaping is undoubtedly growing in popularity in the UK and beyond – with 2.7 million vapers in England alone – as it helps more and more people to stop smoking and start vaping. Public Health England says vaping is far less harmful to your health than smoking and is a great tool to help smokers kick the habit. This blog takes a quick look at the UK vaping laws and regulations surrounding vaping in the UK for both sellers and users.
What Are The UK’s Laws On Vaping?
Let’s start with e-cigarette laws UK. The UK has one of the most regulated e-cigarette markets globally, which is why other countries often look to us as an example of how it’s done and done well.
In the UK, e-cigarettes must meet the Tobacco and Related Products Regulations minimum standards for the safety and quality of e-cigarettes and e-liquid containers, such as:-
- The maximum nicotine strength of liquids is 20mg/ml. Bottles can’t hold over 10ml of liquid and must be childproof and tamper-evident
- Atomizers (also known as tanks) can’t have the capacity of more than 2ml of e-liquid, and certain additives in vape liquids and flavourings are banned, e.g., caffeine, taurine, and colorings.
- The maximum nicotine-containing e-liquid for sale in one refill container is 10ml.
The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) controls the registration of e-cigarettes and e-liquids in the UK. It must be notified of all e-cigarettes and e-liquid UK products before they go on sale, and there is also a 6-month grace period before any submitted item can be sold.
Therefore, provided you buy from a legitimate retailer, you and anyone else can purchase and use vape starter kit and e-liquids, knowing that they have been verified as safe and legal.
UK age restrictions on e-cig sales
As with smoking, the minimum age for vapers is a hot issue. Users must be 18 or over to buy and use e-cigarettes or e-liquids. The e cig laws apply whether you buy from a shop or online.
The regulations are evident on the rules for marketing e-cigs to children, i.e., DON’T. This includes not selling e-liquid flavours that appeal to kids. It’s also illegal for vape adverts to have models who appear to be under the age of 25. That doesn’t always mean illegal stuff can’t be found.
Only this month, Sussex Trading Standards officers seized 141 e-cigarette kits from two stores. They contained more than twice the legal limit of nicotine and included products containing flavours like “icy cola,” “orange soda,” and “lush ice.”
You have to prove you’re old enough to buy a vape starter kit and there are significant repercussions for the seller if they’re found to be selling e-cigs to under 18s. Likewise, an adult can’t buy it for a minor. There are harsh penalties for those who break the law. The seller could get a criminal record and a fine, plus a fine for the company.
As an added safeguard, vape shops often use the Challenge 25 or 21 rule where ID will be asked for before a sale, like for cigarettes and alcohol. So if you’re lucky enough to look young for your age, don’t be offended if you’re asked for proof.
Although vaping is proven to be safer than smoking, e-liquids can still contain nicotine, so precautions must be taken to ensure that buyers and users are of adult age.
Where am I allowed to vape?
There is currently no official regional or national legislation regarding e-cigarettes. Vaping outdoors, much like smoking cigarettes, is generally permitted in public places like streets and parks.
The UK laws on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces don’t apply to vaping, but organizations can make their own rules, and they often do, since it’s up to the property owners to decide on their policies. For example, many airlines, train, and bus companies don’t allow vaping, nor do most pubs, clubs, and restaurants.*
The simple rule is that it’s OK to vape anywhere to smoke. Just be considerate of others around you and if you’re not sure, ask a staff member. Don’t leave yourself open to a fine.
*Policies are evolving, so keep an eye out for updates.
Despite all the rules, vaping is still the safer alternative to smoking.
Wherever there’s money to be made, there will inevitably be fakes and rip-offs. And since vaping is becoming increasingly popular, it’s a god-sent opportunity for fraudsters. That’s why, while acknowledging that vaping makes it easier for smokers to cut down on tobacco use or quit altogether, the UK’s governing bodies need to impose strict regulations and guidelines to prevent anyone from coming to harm.
Vaping is undoubtedly kinder to your lungs and wallet. So if you or anyone you know who wants to quit smoking or reduce reliance on cigarettes, head to the NVee stop smoking help page.
Or, if you have any questions about vaping, e-liquids, or anything else e-cig related, you can contact us on 0800 731 1178, and we’ll be happy to help. Or you can fill in our contact form or chat with us online via the website.